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5 Questions for Tarrytown School Board Candidates

SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. – School board elections are less than a week away, and we're preparing by asking the candidates questions about the issues, what they hope to accomplish and why residents should vote for them.

Incumbents B. Joseph Lillis, Mimi Godwin and Craig Laub are running unopposed for the Board of Education of the Public Schools of the Tarrytowns. The three candidates have chosen to answer the questionnaire as a group.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself:

Mimi Godwin, 65, is a widow who has lived in the district for 43 years. Two daughters were Sleepy Hollow graduates. She has served on the school board since 1996, as a member and president. She presently serves on the board of the Foundation for the Public Schools and has been a board member of RSHM [Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary] Life Center since 1997. She is a board member of the Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Rotary Club and head of Sleepy Hollow Sports Boosters Club.

B. Joseph Lillis, 59, is a banker and married with three children, who have all attended or are attending our schools. He moved to Sleepy Hollow in 1986. He is currently president of the Board of Education, serving on the Audit & Finance Committee. He has been a school board trustee for 25 years.

Craig Laub, 45, is a wealth manager. He is married with three children in the school district and has lived in Sleepy Hollow since 1997. He is in his second three-year term as a school board trustee, running for his third term. Prior to getting involved with schools, he served as a village trustee for the Village of Sleepy Hollow. He currently sits on the school’s Audit & Finance Committee. He has also enjoyed coaching soccer and basketball for a number of years.

What have you accomplished as a member of the school board?

We can’t take for granted that TUFSD [Tarrytowns Union Free School District] can be accurately characterized as excellent. It’s a special place because of the dedication of our leadership, parents, teachers, community and students. Many people have pulled together to keep our schools great under very tough circumstances economically and politically the last several years. In addition to improving many core programs, we’ve preserved much of what makes TUFSD excellent. This reality in itself is a significant accomplishment.

What would you like to accomplish if elected?

We believe that understanding, experience and commitment will be important throughout the upcoming term to ensure that TUFSD is able to meet the challenges that face public education given the economic climate and new political realities. Specifically, this will require strengthening advocacy for our children so that they are afforded the resources and opportunities to achieve their potential as lifelong learners. We need to remain hopeful, open-minded, and persistent in our goal to simultaneously close the gap and raise the bar for our heterogeneous student population.

If something had to be cut from the budget to meet the state tax cap, what would you cut?

That’s the wrong question. The right question is, “What do we do on a Federal and State level to ensure we don’t have to cut any further from our budget that is already suffering from cuts we’ve been forced to make under duress the last few years?”

What are the three biggest issues facing the school today?

The biggest challenge is “sustainability” rooted in a paradigm shift that has curtailed our ability to match revenues with accelerating costs, the bulk of which we have no legislative authority to control.

If elected what would you do about them?

We are focused on becoming a louder voice in Albany and Washington that speaks for children of the public schools; special interest groups are well-organized and funded, and hold sway with our elected officials – until that changes, politicians will continue working for the causes of the groups that most strongly influence their electability.

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